Amphetamine use among the Finnish population continues to rise, according to a study published by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The study, conducted at the national level based on the analysis of wastewater in 27 municipalities and their surroundings, also shows that cocaine use has stabilized and ecstasy use has decreased. The study includes samples collected in major cities of Finland like Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Turku and Tampere. The population base of the study covers approximately 60 % of the Finnish population, according to THL.
The results indicate that amphetamine is widely used throughout the country and its use has continued to grow, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
In March 2021, the highest levels of amphetamine use ever recorded were found in Helsinki and the neighbouring regions. In addition to the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, an upward trend in the use of amphetamine was also observed in Lappeenranta, Kotka and Pori.
"The strong growth in the use of amphetamine at the population level is also reflected in societal side effects such as increased drug-impaired drunken driving," says Head of Unit Teemu Gunnar from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
Amphetamine is still used more in Finland than in the rest of Europe, while cocaine is used significantly less despite its increase in the capital region.
Use of cocaine
The growth in the use of cocaine has stabilised over the last couple of years, and several cities have seen a slight decrease from the peak figures reached last year. This development can be seen especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area and in the largest cities.
The use of cocaine is nevertheless many times higher than it was in 2012. Cocaine use continues to be more and more centered around the Helsinki region, as shown also by previous studies. North of Tampere, use of cocaine in Finland is very low and sporadic.
Ecstasy is used everywhere in Finland, but its use has also decreased in many of the cities examined.
‘Cocaine use has stabilised and ecstasy use has even decreased during the coronavirus restrictions in many of the cities studied. This may have been influenced not only by the availability of drugs but also by restrictions on gatherings and night-life,’ explains Development Manager Aino Kankaanpää.
Monitoring carried out over many years shows that there are regional differences in the development of the drug situation in Finland.
For example, the combined use of amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine in the Helsinki metropolitan area and neighbouring regions is now many times higher than it was when the monitoring began in 2012. During the same period, the growth in drug use in the regions of Turku and Lahti has been lower.
In Vaasa and Joensuu, meanwhile, drug use volumes have fallen back to nearly the same level as previous years, following the temporary increase in drug use observed in spring last year.
‘At the national level, the combined use of amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine is approximately three times higher than in 2012, when a comprehensive national wastewater survey was carried out for the first time,’ Gunnar summarises.